By Guest Blogger Liz O’Donnell
The life of a working mother can be one of the most rewarding lifestyles a woman can choose. Modern women are lucky to have the opportunity to pursue both personal and professional fulfillment. But managing career and family can be incredibly challenging. Many women feel like there’s no end to their to-do lists and no time for relaxing and making time for themselves. A myriad of roles and competing priorities isn’t easy to balance and can leave most working mothers exhausted rather than exhilarated.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
One could say I have it all — it’s just that my definition of “all” is less about Lean In and more about Live Out, as I’ve learned to live out my life in balance; having a lucrative career, enjoying my family and rarely missing an important family or school function. It’s a choice I’ve made, and the realization that “working to the middle,” as opposed to the corner office, is something to honor and strive for.
Women I hear from, many of whom are the breadwinners in their families, are learning how to juggle careers, motherhood, marriage, households, and more. They’re making the difficult but right choice to not just live out their lives, but to thrive. In writing my book, Mogul, Mom & Maid: The Balancing Act of the Modern Woman, I talked to hundreds of women about how they balance career and family. And I found that those women who are thriving as both mothers and professionals, practice the same good habits. They’ve created their own definition of success and they’ve set up their lives to achieve that success.
Here are the eight habits of highly successful working mothers:
1. Ask for Help
Successful working mothers ask for help. They are clear about what they need and don’t hesitate to enlist support. These women delegate both chores at home and projects at work. They don’t rely on other people to read their minds.
Smart women outsource the tasks they don’t want to do but need to get done. This frees them up to spend time on the things they love – like spending time with their family, or pursuing a personal passion. Luckily, there are ways to offload tasks even if your personal finances can’t support a housekeeper or full time assistant. Services like Task Rabbit let you name the price you’re willing to pay for household chores and errands. There are even services that will send thank-you notes on your behalf.
3. Accept Good Enough
Letting go of perfectionist tendencies is key to living a balanced life. Happy working mothers accept good enough where they can. They know that when they ask for help, tasks may not get done exactly how they would do them and that’s okay. Successful women know a task completed is a task completed.
Negotiation is one of the most valuable skills a working mother can develop and the most successful women I’ve met continue to hone their negotiation abilities. When you unlock the power of negotiation, you know that everything is on the table — flex time, work-from-home days, more help with the housework. Luckily, there are plenty of great online courses like SheNegotiates.com and books like Her Place at the Table, available to women to help them improve their skills.
5. Use Technology
Wise women are wired women. Successful women make their smart phones work for them. There are so many great apps to help women stay organized, and the successful women I’ve met have downloaded them. Dragon lets you dictate memos while you drive. Apps like OneNote and Evernote organize your ideas, files, clips and notes. Cardmunch scans business cards so you don’t have to. And smart women get their whole family on the same online calendar system so that at-a-glance they can all coordinate carpools, meetings, sporting events and school activities.
6. Stay Flexible
Women who benefit from flexible work schedules most likely do so because they are flexible too. They know that flexibility is a two-way street and so, if they ask their employers for work from home benefits or a flexible schedule, they accommodate last minute client requests and deadlines when necessary. They understand that sometimes, they may be needed in the office on a work-from-home day, and they accommodate those requests. They know that in order to ask their workplaces for flexibility, they need to be flexible too.
7. Say No
Successful working mothers know how to say no. They may feel the pull toward PTO, but if staffing the book fair doesn’t fit their schedule, they just say no. Likewise, they don’t worry when it seems like every other mother on the block is making elaborate crafts they saw on Pinterest. They know they can do more good with a hug, cuddle, a good bedtime story, and a smile than with a glue gun.
8. Phone a Friend
Successful working mothers build a network of girlfriends and lean on them when they need to. Working moms know that social connection is vital and that being with their girlfriends feeds their soul. Even if the only time they can make for friends is a 10 minute call or a quick text exchange, they know true girlfriends are a source of strength and inspiration.
Being a working mother is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding jobs out there, and using some of the strategies above can ensure an easier and more enjoyable experience at work, home and play.
About Liz O’Donnell
Liz O’Donnell is the founder of Hello Ladies, an award-winning blog delivering news and information to smart, busy women and named one of the top 100 websites for women by Forbes as well as a BlogHer Voice of the Year, three years in a row. Liz’s work has appeared in The Boston Globe Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, The Tampa Tribune, Gatehouse Media and on The Good Men Project. She is a regular contributor to MomsRising, PTO Today, and The Glass Hammer. Liz graduated from Emerson College with a bachelor of fine arts in writing. Liz’s book Mogul, Mom & Maid: The Balancing Act of the Modern Woman takes an honest look at how women are balancing home life and career. The pressures of child rearing, coupled with an unfulfilling corporate culture, are too great to be ignored. Author Liz O’Donnell goes beyond statistics and tells the stories of women all across America who are juggling careers, motherhood, marriage, and households. When she’s not writing, Liz works as a public relations executive. She lives with her husband and two children near Boston and serves as a Town Meeting Member and community volunteer.
Calling all working mothers!! Are you surviving, thriving or sinking like a stone? Have any of the above strategies helped you? How are you managing as a working mom? What are YOUR working mom survival tips – please share with our community below.